planted dahlias for the first time this year. I know they have to be
dug up and brought inside for the winter. Can you tell me the best
way to store dahlia bulbs over the winter?
Although we tend to call all plants that grow from underground
structures "bulbs," technically dahlias are tuberous roots. They are
not winter hardy in our climate and must be dug up and stored
indoors until spring.
Dahlias should be dug carefully to avoid wounding those thick,
fleshy roots. Cut the majority of the foliage back, but be sure
to leave three or four inches of stem attached where they sprout
from the tubers. Next year's growth will come from eyes at the
base of those stems. If you remove the stems entirely, they will
not grow next year.
Preparing tubers for winter
Brush as much soil off the tuberous roots as possible, but do
not wash them. Lay them on an old screen and allow them to dry
in a protected, shady area with good air circulation for a week
or so. Then store them in a dry peat moss, perlite, vermiculite
or sand in shallow trays or cloth bags that allow for air
circulation. Keep them in a cool (35 - 50°F), dry place where
there is no danger of them freezing.
Planting Dahlias next spring
All danger of frost should be past before
planting dahlia tubers in the spring.
As I am sure you noticed, the tuberous roots increased in size
dramatically over the growing season compared to the small
pieces you planted last spring. Avoid the temptation to divide
them until next spring. You will have much less trouble with
them rotting in storage. You can safely divide them next spring
before planting them. Be sure to include a piece of eye-bearing
stem with each division. Although they should not be planted
outside until all danger of frost has past, you can pot them up
earlier and hold them indoors to get a head start on the growing
mildew on dahlias
Peony care - How to get peonies
Saving your bean Seeds